Helping young Americans succeed in a global environment is both a vocation and a passion for Mohamed Abdel-Kader. “Students and business people need a global understanding and mindset to exist in the world today,” says Abdel-Kader, deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of International and Foreign Language Education.
“U.S. nurses caring for patients with different languages, civil engineers building bridges in Egypt, or someone doing business in Mumbai all need knowledge of world languages and cultures to do their jobs effectively.”
Abdel-Kader, who is fluent in Arabic, oversees nine programs that support the study of international languages and cultures from elementary school through college. “We fund curricula, training programs for business people, and world language studies for colleges, teachers and minorities,” he says.
The son of Egyptian immigrants, Abdel-Kader was born in New York and grew up in South Carolina. He studied political science at Clemson University, and earned a master’s degree in higher education administration from Vanderbilt Peabody College and an MBA from Georgetown.
While working in advancement at George Mason University and Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, he learned “how universities can better people’s lives by fostering international understanding and economic development.” When the White House called with an offer to join the Obama administration, Abdel-Kader leapt at the chance to achieve similar goals through government policy.
“Giving our students and workers global competencies,” he says, “strengthens our national security, foreign relations, business competitiveness, and our increasingly diverse communities.”
—JOANNE LAMPHERE BECKHAM, BA’62